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Putting the Wii in (Wii)generation

November 11, 2010

We’ve run various pieces on this blog about ingenious ways to get the public to connect with planning…

There’ve been animations, songs, tweets and facebook pages but no one has used a Nintendo Wii motion controller and special 3D glasses. Until now.

In the week of the launch of what is likely to be the biggest video game of all time, Call of Duty: Black Ops, planning has in a small way harnessed computer games technology to create a 3D visualisation tool to bring to life the regeneration of Dundee waterfront.

There won’t be any explosions, gunfire or gore but the tool will allows users to fly a bird through the city, exploring how the plans will affect them.  

It’ll also allow complex environmental information – such as levels of noise or pollution – to be simply represented using different coloured buildings.

The tool, developed by researchers from the University of Abertay Dundee, working with Scottish Enterprise, went on display yesterday as part of the Dundee Science Festival.

John Isaacs, developer of the 3D visualisation tool at Abertay University, said: “Using the Nintendo Wii controller and the bird has proved a real hit with kids. Every time we’ve put the system on show, families are instantly interested – and find themselves quickly learning about how their city will look in the future.”

Sadly I haven’t seen it in action and have to rely on the press blurb but it’s a nice idea and if it gets people interested in planning and their surroundings then that can only be a good thing. You can take a look at some of the visualisations here.

I would bet animation like this doesn’t come cheap though.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2010 9:53 am

    Scrap the planning system, the practice of building houses for people who wanted a roof over their heads worked very well before 1947, all it does is keep the crab like planners in a job.

    • Tom permalink
      November 11, 2010 10:10 am

      Crab like? I can be a bit cranky yes, but crustacean-like, I think not.

      This is a great idea, plans a drawings usually fail in conveying to people what large scale developmetn will look like, 3D-visualisations like this where people can move around and between the buildings are much better.

      As you say its probably costly, but than its probably worth more than any number of layout plans.

    • LeafyLaneDweller permalink
      November 11, 2010 12:28 pm

      What’s that got to do with this article? Go and vent your anger by writing to the Daily Mail.

    • Another Planner permalink
      November 11, 2010 1:06 pm

      yeah thats why in rural areas pre 1947 Council houses are stuck (wholly unsustainably) in the middle of nowhere…

      • November 11, 2010 2:11 pm

        I lived in one of those for most of my childhood, it was bliss compared to what the poor souls had to put up with in the post 1947 utopian ghettos, if that is ‘sustainable’ then we really are living a lie.

        Nuff said

  2. Michael Donnelly permalink*
    November 11, 2010 9:58 am

    Ok. Controversial, but you are entitled to your opinion. What’s the relavance to this post though?

  3. November 11, 2010 10:30 am

    You mentioned “Connecting the people with planning” so I thought of the simplest, cheapest and most effective way of doing this.

    Planners have been described as crab like because when you approach them they move sideways.

    • Roger permalink
      November 11, 2010 12:38 pm

      Do away with any form of control and the only thing that will connecting with anything is likely to be fists, given how angry people get with each other over planning now!
      Do you have anything else constructive to offer? By the way RAF personnel were calleds crabs by the Navy long before planners. Apparently because we couldn’t walk in a straight line on a ship at sea!

    • Gherkin permalink
      November 11, 2010 1:05 pm

      It didn’t work before 1947. History of planning in two sentences:

      Even after the public health and slum clearance acts of the late 1800s/early 20th century we ended up with highly speculative development (and boom and bust) associated with railway development and a lack of land for food during the World War II. We chose not to nationalise land, but to nationalise the development of it, to make sure we could rebuild our cities and try to ensure a balance of development for the benefit of society as a whole.

      I’m not sure anyone here thinks planners haven’t made mistakes, but I can’t believe there was a wonderful supply of housing during two World Wars and the Great Depression.

      • November 11, 2010 2:02 pm

        Can you honestly say that the planning system as we know it meets the demand when it is established?

        Time and again we see reasons for planning prevention which are merely excuses. Is it the culture within the RTPI?

  4. Roger permalink
    November 11, 2010 11:04 am

    What a shame somebody has to reinvent the wheel all the time. If we could have a system like this that was accessible and affordable to us all, however small your LPA, it would improve things on a national basis. Google Street view seems to be a very good start point for something like this. Isn’t there some clever type out there who can figure how to bring all these bits of tech together for the greater good? This is going to be even more relevant once we start to struggle with the twin pressures of reducing budgets and increasing workload in order to enable communities to do their own community planning.

  5. November 11, 2010 12:46 pm

    In 1971 I went to work for an Roberts Davies RIBA, back then planners were open minded, fairly flexible, friendly, had no predilections (well not many).

    My experience of them over the last 10 years has shocked me.

    • Another Planner permalink
      November 11, 2010 1:04 pm

      You will enjoy this previous post from ‘Necropolis’ then…

      “At PIPA this weekend, a Councillor stood there, in front of the great and good of Planning and said “You train Planners like you train dogs, you develop Councillors”. Front and centre, with the RTPI President right there.

      Did anyone correct him? Anyone stand up for Planning Officers? Anyone say that wasn’t on?

      Not a single one. Not even our President.

      Nuff said.”

      • November 11, 2010 2:56 pm

        I must admit that the planners I know have management who wield a big stick, for fun. I couldn’t put up with such abuse even if it meant keeping my sorry job.

        Don’t mention Councillors, politics and paranoia R us.

  6. Chris permalink
    November 11, 2010 1:40 pm


  7. Cynical Scot permalink
    November 12, 2010 10:14 am

    From what I can understand from previous entries, this guy has been refused permission for a house in the countryside and now thinks the entire system is broken. Just ignore him.

    • November 12, 2010 10:19 am

      This man knows nothing so ignore him.

      Do a Google maps search for LL44 2EP and see if that is open countryside.

      • Tom permalink
        November 12, 2010 10:44 am

        Well, it does look pretty much like its countryside tbh, though of course I have not seen the actual development plan.

        But remember with planning people see our occasional failures, they dont always see our many sucesses. The apalling schemes which never get planning permission and thefore never get built to blight the public realm, which are incidentally usually ‘desinged’, and I use the term loosely, by supposedly well qualified architects and agents who love to have a go at the planning system.

        We, as planners may have permitted ‘utopian ghettos’ (whatever those are), which may have been our mistake, but remember, we did not design them.

      • Cynical Scot permalink
        November 12, 2010 1:32 pm

        I don’t care about the specifics. I just wonder what you hope to acheive by coming onto a planning blog and describing planners as ‘crab like’?

      • Principal Planner permalink
        November 12, 2010 1:48 pm

        It’s in the middle of nowhere – Wales!!!

      • LeafyLaneDweller permalink
        November 12, 2010 2:41 pm

        “The man knows nothing so ignore him”

        It turns out the ‘man’ knows quite a lot. I’ve just read the appeal decision by the Welsh Inspectorate. Funny how you forgot to mention it’s also on the edge of (if not actually in) the the Snowdonia National Park.

        Quote from PINS report:

        “Planning policy restricts housing outside development boundaries and seeks to protect the countryside and the National Park, where the statutory purpose is to conserve and enhance its natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage.”

        Current system: Protect countryside and National Parks.

        Your suggestion: Let everyone build where they want. Countryside? National Park? pah.

        Flippant remarks aside, I hope you are able to find a suitable plot for your home.

  8. Unhalfplanning permalink
    November 17, 2010 12:17 pm

    Back on topic: I wonder how many people find it hard to relate to planning issues because such issues tend to be long term?

    Any planners who are used to dealing with strategic issues may well be comfy thinking about how things will pan out beyond their own lifetimes, but I would guess that most people don’t.

    Pure speculation on my part, of course. But if that’s right, then engaging the broader public in larger scale long term planning issues is always going to be something of an uphill struggle, it would seem to me.

    It’s also an educational issue, which would suggest that an ability to think over the (very) long term would have to be taught at school.

    • Roger permalink
      November 17, 2010 1:01 pm

      I am not a planning professional, but I am prepared to promote their role as defenders of our communities for future generations. Given the point about not being able to capture the public’s attention on long term planning issues, isn’t that exactly why we have a body of professionally trained and committed individuals who have been given the job of applying some vision to the long term outcomes?
      If the current band of ministers wishes to identify those responsible for the current (bad) planning system, I suggest they look no further than the nearest mirror. As well as their own reflections, they will see the faces of their many meddling short sighted predecessors. Politicians make bad policies, planners just have to try to work with them!

    • Cynical Scot permalink
      November 17, 2010 1:16 pm

      I agree with this. I would go further, even, and ask, as economic policy, defense policy, education policy etc – all long term strategic decisions, are not subject to referendum (excepting the once-in-a-lifetime things like entering the Euro, if it ever comes to that) why should decisions on long-term infrastructure (i.e. HS2) and the kinds of things that are set out in Development Plans, be so closely tied with ‘community engagement? when there are professionally qualified and skilled people paid to make those calls?

      • November 17, 2010 3:15 pm

        The planners don’t want the public engaged!

    • Unhalfplanning permalink
      November 17, 2010 3:39 pm

      In some people’s view, the purpose of the IPC was to make the creation of large scale infrastructure more streamlined.

      But whereas defence or the economy are somewhat abstract (even if their consequences are not), the consequences of planning decisions have a certain concrete immediacy that people want to be able to respond to.

      For example, having your village cut in half by a new road or railway is far closer to home than a decision about what sort of missiles will work best in a war on the other side of the world.

      • Cynical Scot permalink
        November 18, 2010 5:26 pm

        I am simply making the point that, for very good reasons, we live in a democratic system whereby we vote for representatives to take decisions in the public interest – decision making power is devolved upwards, and if enough people disagree, they can vote for other people. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best system anyone has come up with.

        Not to say that there should be zero public engagement in planning and infrastructure decisions at all, just that we should be realistic about the level of influence that people with a vested interest (i.e. people who live nearby to something) should have over the other, far greater number of people who would benefit from it. The level of influence any individual can/should over big decisions is exaggerated in the planning system to a greater degree than for other areas of public policy.

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